Another Wednesday night game in Belfast saw the Northstars and Buccaneers trading blows for seven innings before Darwin Sanchez led his team off the field in a 15-14 victory.
In a battle of youth vs experience, Sean Shackley squared off against Kleiber Sanchez in a slugfest that had more examples of great defence than the score implies.
In the bottom of the first the young righthander loaded his bases for Jon Carter; a deep fly ball soared towards the outfield fence before being hauled in by Sean McMahon to limit the damage. The score was held at 3-2 until the bottom of the third when the Stars had clawed the lead back to 4-4. Will Mitchell of the Stars and Chris Barr of the Bucs traded double plays for an inning before the Buccaneers stretched their lead out to 7-4.
With a sliver of daylight between the two sides Melvin Woods, as he has done so many times this season, began to drive his team back and six runs later the Northstars were on top.
It was then the Bucs turn to rebound, scoring five runs to knock Kleiber Sanchez out of the game. 12-10 down, Darwin Sanchez took the ball to try and turn the tide once more. His team didn’t help matters when miscommunication led to a poor offensive half inning as the comeback was temporarily put on hold.
The Bucs added two more runs in the top of the seventh but the Stars would not be held. With the tying run 90 feet away in the form of Kleiber Sanchez and the winning run 90 feet further back, Woods was walked, a dead ball got the young starter in. A Will Mitchell hit later and Darwin Sanchez helped record a memorable victory for the Northstars.
The Belfast Hornets completed their two and a half week layoff in the Baseball Ireland B League North, making the trip south west to Cavan to take on the 6-8 Comets.
Lying second in the division with games in hand, Mark Smith’s team took the field looking to close the gap on the Belfast Buccaneers. The Comets however, had other ideas.
With starter Colin Woods struggling to locate his pitches and the Hornets not on their toes defensively the Comets took an early 4-0 lead in the first. Digging in, the visitors scrapped two runs back in the bottom of the first, then went on a tear over the next two innings, crossing the plate seven more times.
In previous games the savvy Hornet defence would have held such a lead but on this day it was obvious they were not firing on all cylinders. With timely hitting and aggressive baserunning, Cavan would tie the game in the sixth, setting up essentially a one-inning game.
Despite having the heart of their order up in the top of the seventh, the Hornets could not force a runner over and in the bottom of the last, with the winning run on third, a deep fly ball to right centre could not be hauled in despite the best efforts of the speedy Stephen Hunter giving the home side the victory, 10-9 the final.
With the Comets going deep into their pitching staff for their third game of the day, there was little they could do against Mark Smith’s pitching in the second game of their double header. Showing patience at the plate, first baseman Stephen Rogan making some tricky picks and John Want wearing a few more pitches the Hornets scored early and often to get out to a 10-1 lead moving into the bottom of the fifth.
With third baseman Colin Woods at second, one crack of the bat from Smith would give him a mercy rule walkoff home run to deep left centre. Going 1-1 against the Comets is not a bad result, but looking back the Hornets will doubtlessly focus on the errors made in the first game – it is definitely one that got away.
by Neil Boyd
Be sure to check out the Facebook pages and twitter feeds for the teams of the Belfast Baseball and Softball Club –
The Belfast Northstars(@NorthstarsBB) ,
The Belfast Buccaneers(@BelfastBucs),
The Belfast Hornets (@BelfastHornets),
The Belfast Angels Softball Club (@Belfast_Angels).